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review 2019-01-05 23:02
Untangled: A story of resilience, courage, and triumph - Alexis Rose

In Untangled: A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph, Alexis Rose offers raw, forthright descriptions of the repeated abuse she experienced in childhood and into adulthood. I would caution anyone who has experienced abuse themselves to carefully evaluate whether they are far enough along in their own healing to feel safe while reading this kind of account; I would suggest a better place to start might be Alexis’s other book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, which focuses more on the healing process. Aside from this caveat, this is a powerful, eye-opening book. It is truly remarkable that Alexis has been brave enough to share her story, and is able to tell it so clearly, in a manner that is calm yet still captures the emotional devastation at the time. She very effectively describes the hell of not only living through traumatic events, but struggling with the lasting trauma reactions afterwards. She also touches on many questions that those unfamiliar with trauma might wonder about, including trauma bonding with an abuser, continuing to follow instructions drilled in by the abusers, and maintaining silence.

The sexual, physical, psychological, and ritualistic abuse began at an early age at the hands of her parents and others. As she was being abused, she would imagine seeing the house next door on fire through her window; she eloquently described how this helped her to find a “golden thread of survival. That thread kept the pieces of my shattered soul together, and gave me the strength I needed to wake up and face another day.” Messages to remain silent were frequently drilled into her, and as she grew older, various techniques were used to keep her under tight psychological control.

Alexis describes a horrific pair of trips to the Middle East, where her mother moved after her father died. She explained the bizarre trauma bond she developed with a man she was forced to live with who exerted complete control over her and frequently spoke down to her as if she were garbage. She was informed that she was to serve as “a killer and a whore,” or else she herself would be killed. She observes that by that point, “any shred of my psychological health had been obliterated.” She ended up being tortured and beaten, and she describes the ways in which she dissociated as her mind tried to protect itself.

When she was finally allowed to return home, she began the processing of repressing the memories of what had happened to her. Without other skills available, she relied on this strategy of repression continued for as long as she could manage. Her abusers continued to make themselves known periodically, through phone calls, mail, and in person, and she was subjected to ongoing psychological abuse from her mother.

She began to have flashbacks, although she lacked the knowledge to understand that’s what they were. She writes that she had “no idea that the level of abuse I survived as a child was worth talking about or bothering with.” At one point she stopped therapy because she was unable to move past the brainwashed messages that she must remain silent. She adopted a pattern of trying to “push feelings aside and keep moving”, as this was the only way she knew to keep going. She made the interesting distinction that “it wasn’t that I was living in the moment; I was just continually on the move.”

Things came crashing down after her daughter was hit by a car while crossing the street. Alexis writes about the extremely intense flashback triggered by the call she received from the police, and finally realized that “my mental health was hanging by a very thin thread that was about to break”. At that point she started seeing the psychologist who became “my healer, my teacher, and the one I would call my Sherpa, who truly started me on my journey. Walking into his office that day I began six years of a difficult and treacherous trek up the highest of mountain peaks, but that was also the day I began to claim my life and start to live, not just survive.” She finally got to a point where she could begin “forgetting how to forget”.

Despite the horrific things that have happened to her, she has been able to leave behind those who have abused her and move forward with healing. She has been able to draw on resilience and an ability to thrive, and has reached a place where she can be optimistic and thrive. Alexis writes: “I’ve untangled myself. My courage has set me free, and now nothing can keep me tied to the past. I can truly live today with blinders off and eyes wide open.” This is a truly inspiring book that tells an amazing story of survival through adversity.

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review 2017-12-03 23:12
A cute, simple picture book suitable for infants and up.
Petra - Marianna Coppo

Disclaimer: reviewing eARC galley via NetGalley.


Very few words and strong storytelling through the images makes it perfect for very young audiences, as well as beginning readers. The images are sparse, simple and whimsical, surrounded by plenty of white space. The story is amusing and meaningful; an accessible exploration of identity. I loved the emphasis on adjusting expectations, adapting to new, unexpected situations, and knowing and accepting yourself as the world shifts around you. The main character is a stone with a big imagination, and rather than falling into despair when its surroundings make its dreams crumble, it just keeps adapting and enjoying where it's at. A good message of resilience and stability for kids rendered in a minimalist, non-preachy style.

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text 2017-07-16 04:13
What I've read since I've been away...
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay
Fearless Creating - Eric Maisel
Baltimore Blues - Laura Lippman
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - Al Franken
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Res... Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy - Sheryl Sandberg,Adam Grant
Dangerous Ends: (Pete Fernandez Book 3) ... Dangerous Ends: (Pete Fernandez Book 3) - Alex Segura

Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay
Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel
Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison
Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
Option B - Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy. 
Dangerous Ends by Alex Segura

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text 2016-06-06 06:09
Reading progress update: I've read 72 out of 264 pages.
Course Correction: A Story of Rowing and Resilience in the Wake of Title IX - Ginny Gilder
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review 2015-04-25 23:32
Mental illness is not a stigma.
Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness - Jessie Close,Pete Earley
I always find it really hard to rate a book that talks so openly about the struggles that the author has lived with, yet that I didn't consider particularly well written. In this case the award winning writer, Pete Earley was involved, so there really wasn't any excuse for this being so slow to get going.
The early stages of the book were far too much back-story of parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents. It didn't keep my interest and I couldn't remember them all anyway. I would have preferred a family tree, possibly accompanied by a list with a little more detail, something that could be referred back to. (And at the FRONT of the book, not the back, where Kindle readers only find it when they finish reading!)

After the first quarter, the book began to improve; there started to be mention of the mental illness that I had read the book to learn about. I appreciate that Jesse Close did not get a diagnosis until she was in her fifties, so I understand the lack of explanation at that time in her story, but it was a bit alienating for me, as a reader.
My real involvement with the book began when her son, Calen started to show symptoms of mental illness and Jesse realised how his behaviour mirrored her own.

Jesse's childhood spent with a nanny, so her parents could dedicate all their time to a religious cult, was heartbreaking. She and her siblings had to live with the fact that they were second in importance for their own parents. Even once Dr and Mrs Close had broken away from the cult, her father was still a distant figure in her life, always putting his patients before his family. Although they spent a lot of their time apart, the siblings supported one another and became very close.

The main reason for the publication of the book is to publicise the issue of mental health and to attempt to reduce the stigma attached to the condition. To this end, Jesse and her family, including actress Glenn Close, have done a marvelous job of presenting their story from the heart. Although I could not rate the book as highly as I would have liked, I wish them all the best in their fight for recognition of the disease and acceptance of those who suffer from it as valid human beings.
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